Labour in West Somerset is calling for renewed local control of education – as schools in the district lurch from crisis to crisis.

Andy Lewis
Andy Lewis “Labour believes that all schools and colleges in an area should work together in a planned way, under professional local guidance“

West Somerset College has revealed today that is has a black hole of more than £700,000 in its finances. Redundancies are being planned. And at the other end of West Somerset, Danesfield Middle School and two other schools are without a head teacher – after the sudden resignation of Ian Bradbury.

Both the college and the Quantock Federation – which includes Danesfield – are academies, outside the control of Somerset County Council.

Mr Bradbury’s resignation has not been explained. But he had been suspended by the college governors after claims that a teacher he recruited from Spain taped up the mouths of children in a lesson. The teacher concerned is understood to be back in Spain and parents have been told nothing about the outcome of an investigation into the incident.

At West Somerset College, meanwhile, money is being lost because of cuts in government funding because of falling student numbers. Teachers are likely to be among those losing their jobs, though the college hopes to avoid compulsory redundancies.

After the last election, the college and Danesfield joined the stampede to break from local authority control, encouraged by the government and the Tory county council. The only body overseeing them is Michael Gove’s education department in London.

Labour proposals to maintain Standards

west som college 2
West Somerset College has a £700,000 black hole in it’s finances

Labour says that if schools operate in a free-for-all, with no local oversight, the crisis in education can only get worse.

West Somerset Labour Party has joined the national debate by proposing that co-ordination of education by elected local authorities should be written into the Party manifesto. At the same time, senior Labour figures nationally are proposing a system of local education commissioners, who would maintain standards in all state schools, including academies.

West Somerset Labour Secretary Andy Lewis said: “What is important is that schools and colleges are brought under some sort of local oversight. Earlier this year, we saw a protracted and ill-tempered war of words between West Somerset College and Minehead Middle School. Now the college is facing financial problems and there is a leadership problem in the Quantock Federation.

“The idea that schools should be left to float free of any control has proved to be disastrous. Labour believes that all schools and colleges in an area should work together in a planned way, under professional local guidance.”


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Doug Ross
Doug Ross
9 years ago

I am so pleased that you have publiciswed the West Somerset branch’s views on education. I hope the party will resist the proposal for education commissioners; I have no coinfidence in the concentration of power into the hands of one person. What we should be doing is strngethening the locally elected, locally accountable education authorities (I thouight this government claimed to support localism?!).

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